Recent Events:

November 5th (Saturday)--November 6th (Sunday), 2011
NYU-PKU Bilateral Graduate Student Symposium: Lu Xun and the Politics of Modern Chinese Essay

Sponsored by International Center for Critical Theory, PKU-NYU; China House; Department of East Asian Studies; and Department of Comparative Literature, New York University; and Department of Chinese Language and Literature, and the Graduate School, Peking University

November 5th (Saturday)--November 6th (Sunday), 2011
Location: Kimmel Center 914 (60 Washington Square South)

The study of modern Chinese literature has been dominated by scholarly works on fiction and poetry, whereas the essay, considered "the culmination of the literary achievement of the Vernacular Revolution" by veteran May Fourth writers such as Zhou Zuoren and Hu Shi, remains till this day understudied and under-theorized.  Of the essay as a major genre, critical attention as well as popular reading habit gravitate toward the belle lettres, which took roots in New Literature by means of a productive though unmediated borrowing from both the Chinese classical gentry-literati tradition and the traditions of the modern European and Japanese essayistic practice from Montaigne to Tanizaki, with the Anglo-American essayists standing at the very center).  This symposium, which brings together graduate students and faculty from Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Peking University and the Departments of East Asian Studies and of Comparative Literature at New York University into an intimate and sustained dialogue, seeks to give the modern Chinese essayistic tradition a critical attention and scrutiny where it is due, by revisiting the literary production of its central figures, namely the Zhou Brothers--Lu Xun and Zhou Zuoren; by reexamining the stylistic and aesthetic properties of the essay as such; and by probing into the ontological-political space of the essay as it was opened up and institutionalized in the middle of intense socio- and cultural political battles of modern China, which, historically and in the most personal manner, constituted the very the force field in which the essay thrived.

The student papers to be presented at this symposium are work-in-progress in every sense.  The PKU papers are drawn from three graduate seminars on the essay offered in the Chinese Department in the single semester of Fall 2010, which testified to the growing importance of this subfield.  The instructors of those seminars were Professor Wang Feng of PKU; Professor Huang Ziping of Hong Kong Baptist University (emeritus) and Professor Xudong Zhang of New York University and Chang-Jiang Chair Visiting Professor of PKU.  The NYU papers have been organized as a series of responses to the PKU paper but with their own research and methodological focus, resulting from NYU graduate students long-term interest in questions regarding Chinese literary modernity and cultural politics; comparative and interdisciplinary approach to literary analysis; and in translation theory.  As an event in the long list of activities generated by the NYU-PKU exchange and cooperation program, which recently led to the formal launching of the International Center for Critical Theory, PKU-NYU, the symposium is meant to be not a conclusion but rather a new point of departure for successive efforts at cracking the nut of the modern Chinese essay as an object of historical, aesthetic, and political analysis, which has been unfolding in the form of numerous reading groups, graduate seminars, workshops, and research conferences taking place at PKU, East China Normal University in Shanghai, University of Tokyo's Center of Philosophy (UTCP) since the winter of 2006.  From the perspective of programmatic and curricular development, however, It is no exaggeration to say that "Lu Xun and the Politics of Chinese Modern Essay" has been one of the nodal points on which different institutional and critical sources of energy converged and, eventually, gave rise to initial frames and shapes of International Center for Critical Theory.


Saturday, November 5, 2011
10:00 a.m. Opening Remarks
Prof. Xudong Zhang
Director of China House and Chair of East Asian Studies, NYU
Prof. Jacques Lezra
Professor of Comparative Literature and Spanish, Chair of Comparative Literature, NYU

10:15 a.m. Panel I
Chair Prof. Jiang Hui (Dept. of Chinese Language and Literature, PKU)
The Temptation of Translation: Reread Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman
Wang Qin (New York University)
Image of Animal in Lu Xun’s short stories
Todd Foley (New York University)
On “Slippery” (lun youhua) as Rhetorical Technique: a Narrative Structure in Lu Xun’s Works
Xu Yue (Peking University)
Discussant Cameron Williams (New York University)

Lunch Break

1:30p.m. Panel II
Chair Prof. Thomas Looser (Dept. of East Asian Studies, NYU)
“Heresy and Play: Adorno’s “The Essay as Form” and Lu Xun’s Essays”
Eric Hodges (New York University)
A Country of Wenzi: The Discourse of Wenzi and Cultural Criticisms of Lu Xun and Zhou Zuoren
Wang Fang (Peking University)
Discussant Prof. Peter Button (Dept. of East Asian Studies, NYU)

Coffee Break

3:15p.m. Panel III
Chair Prof. Ethan Harkness (Gallatin School of Individualized Studies, Dept. of East Asian Studies, NYU)
Slave or Simpleton? The Figure of Ah Q and the Possibility of New Man
Xie Jun (New York University)
Wild Grass on the Crossroads: Dialectics of Death and Rebirth
Zhou Xiang (Peking University)
Discussant Prof. Moss Roberts (Dept. of East Asian Studies, NYU)

Sunday, November 6, 2011
10:30 a.m. Panel IV.
Chair Prof. Ethan Harkness (Gallatin School of Individualized Studies, Dept. of East Asian Studies, NYU)
From the City to the Sitting Room: Hong Kong as a Spatial Medium in Lu Xun’s Zawen (miscellaneous essays)
Chen Xinyao (Peking University)
A Sliced Chinese Imagination: An Interpretation of Lu Xun’s “Confucius Visits Nanzi”
Piao Jie (Peking University)
Discussant Sun Yi (New York University)

Lunch Break

1:15 p.m. Panel V
Chair Prof. Peter Button (Dept. of East Asian Studies, NYU)
“Is Lu Xun’s Translation “Ying Yi” (hard translation)?
Li Songrui (Peking University)
“The Regeneration of Language and the Politics on Translation: A Discussion of Lu Xun’s Translation of Gogol’s Dead Souls”
Lu Yang (Peking University)
“Literal Translation” and the Opacity of Language
Cui Wenjin (New York University)
“Politics and Allegory in Lu Xun’s “Hard Translation”
Wang Pu (New York University)
Discussant Zhang Li (Columbia University)

3:30 pm Roundtable Discussion
Moderator: Prof. Xudong Zhang (NYU)
Introductory remarks: Prof. Chen Pingyuan (Chair, Dept. of Chinese Language and Literature, PKU)
Panelists: Prof. Wang Feng (PKU); Prof. Jiang Hui (PKU); Prof. Jin Yongbing (PKU, visiting professor at NYU); Prof. Peter Button (NYU); Prof. Moss Roberts (NYU); Prof. Ethan Harkness (NYU)
location: Kimmel Center 914 (60 Washington Square South)

The Fifth Workshop on Core Courses of Liberal Education (Cosponsored by the Chinese Culture Foundation)
July 31 - August 5

August 24 - 25, 2010
ICCT Summer 2010 Workshop on “Rethinking Enlightenment in Global and Historical Contexts”(co-organized by University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy (UTCP); NYU Summer Research Institute in the Humanities, New York-Beijing-Shanghai; and East China Normal U
location: Peking University, Beijing, China

copyright © ICCT All Rights Reserved.